For most of us the holidays mean friends, family, vacation, good times, food, food, food, and oh – did I mention food? The lucky people (you know who you are) can skate through the holidays enjoying candies, cakes, pies, dips, chips, turkey, gravy, and eggnog without gaining a pound. The rest of us usually find that our favorite pair of jeans is just a little tighter on January 1st. I’d be willing to bet my right arm that the number one New Years Resolution year after year is … “I’m going to go back on my diet” or “I will start eating healthy again”.
These tips are all about how to enter the new year the same size you left it! – or at least close to the same size. I think a very common mistake people make is telling themselves that this year they will absolutely not overeat no matter what. Then, when they do have that extra brownie or serving of mashed potatoes, they reason – well, I blew it! I might as well have that fourth brownie – and, oh look, that apple pie is still hot!!
The first tip I have – and maybe the most important – is be realistic this holiday season. If you have a history of gaining a few pounds every year, expect to gain a few this year, too. BUT… I’m certainly not saying don’t do anything!
Here are some tips to minimize the caloric overabundance of the holidays: print them out and keep them handy for the next month or so.
TIP #1 – PARTIES AND GATHERINGS
Parties and gatherings are always accompanied by tasty treats. First, mark on your calendar when these events will take place. Second, PLAN AHEAD. Make your other meals and snacks that day lighter fare than usual. Or, instead of two meals, have one meal (i.e., breakfast) and one snack in place of your usual lunch. (The difference between a meal and a snack? A meal is 400- 500 calories or more as in a turkey dinner, and a snack falls somewhere around 200-300 calories.) Also, let’s say your party is at 4:00 pm – have a light snack at 3:30. In other words, never go to a party hungry – you will overeat. Here are some healthy pre-party snacks to keep handy:
• granola bars
• crackers and low fat cheese
• small bowl of cereal – any time of the day
• low fat muffins
• string cheese
TIP #2 – KEEP EXERCISING
Why wait for the new year to start?? If you love to eat, exercise is a great way to balance out those calories for weight maintenance. We are lucky to live in a climate where you can exercise outdoors year round – most of the time. Enjoy our beautiful city this season – show it off to your guests and family. Take them out for a hike – or just step out your front door for a post Turkey walk (if you’re not in a food coma, that is) – I guarantee you will feel better. What? You’re going to Michigan? Walking in the snow can actually be fun if you have the right gear. Go outside and make a snowman. Do your yoga routine indoors.. The bottom line is – keep moving.
TIP #3 – HOLIDAY GUESTS
Guests coming? And bringing the kids? Good! This gives you ample opportunity to be “in control” of your holiday eating. Keep healthy foods around the house for munching:
• vegetables with low – fat dip
• reduced fat crackers and low fat cheese
• hummus with pita
• bread bowl of fruit
• low fat muffins
• bowls of pretzels
TIP #4 – ALCOHOL
Some people find that they drink more alcohol during this festive season. The problem is alcohol packs in 7 calories per gram, with no nutrients to speak of. If you are at a party or just having a good time with family – try switching off between alcoholic drinks and “other” low cal drinks like seltzer water or diet soda. I want to stress low cal drinks because if you drink eggnog and regular sodas or juices in between each drink, you’re still getting all the calories!
TIP #5 – PLAN AHEAD
Successful weight loss often boils down to good planning and more than any other time of the year, planning is essential during the holiday season. If weight loss is a battle for you, then it’s time for an all-out assault on holiday weight gain! Sit down and calmly think about your tactics: what to do when you’re offered foods you’d prefer not to eat; what to eat instead; how to handle nosy relatives and their comments about your weight loss efforts; fun ways to enjoy the season that aren’t food- related, etc. If you have a plan, you will not be caught off-guard in the mass confusion that is a family get-together. Write down your plan of attack in your weight loss journal. The more concrete your plan is to you, the more likely you are to stick to it.
TIP #6 – DON’T RUN ON EMPTY
Whatever you do, don’t go to a party hungry or “save your appetite” for a big end-of-the day meal at the family’s or at work!. Make sure to eat healthy snacks before the office get-together and throughout the holiday week- end. If you find yourself facing down a buffet table on an empty stomach, you’ll have little chance of avoiding a binge. Just as you no longer skip meals on a day-to-day basis and expect successful weight loss, don’t do without during the big day so you’ll truly “appreciate” Mom’s famous turkey and dressing.
If you allow yourself to become too hungry, you’ll “appreciate” everything else right along with it, with little regard for portion.?These are just a few suggestions that I have found helpful in battling the holiday weight war. In the end, it all comes down to being focused — on yourself, your goals and enjoying this special time with your loved ones. Stay motivated in your weight loss efforts, but don’t be so focused that you let the holidays pass you by without enjoying them.
The point is to be with your friends and family and have fun, not to be constantly on-guard against eating something “bad” or over-doing it. And what if you do indulge? Don’t be your own personal Grinch! Ease up and be kind to yourself. Scolding yourself will spell failure; forgiving yourself will assure continued weight loss success. Remember: Tomorrow is always brand new day, every time it happens!